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Zach Wilson

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  • 15
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  • The Collapsing Empire

  • The Interdependency, Book 1
  • By: John Scalzi
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,919
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,195
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11,157

Our universe is ruled by physics, and faster-than-light travel is not possible - until the discovery of The Flow, an extradimensional field we can access at certain points in space-time that transports us to other worlds, around other stars. Humanity flows away from Earth, into space, and in time forgets our home world and creates a new empire, the Interdependency, whose ethos requires that no one human outpost can survive without the others. It's a hedge against interstellar war - and a system of control for the rulers of the empire.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Definitely not my favorite scalzi

  • By pat on 03-25-17

A Good Start and an Excellent Experiment in Dramatic Irony

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-03-17

This book is the first in a series by John Scalzi and a reader can definitely tell that. The backstory and exposition of the universe takes up a decent amount of the book, although it is hidden fairly well. The characters are fairly flat. Be it a noblewoman with a passion for "fuck" (both the cuss word and the act), oran empero who wasn't trained and never wanted to be in her position, most characters have one or two notable characters, and not a lot of personal development occurs.

The series of conflicts is fast paced and tense, but so complex the characters spend much of their time explaining it to the reader and each other. Scalzi's skill with dialogue shines through, as every protagonist is emotive, intelligent, confident, and surprising in their speech. However, most of the conflict revolves around the actions of characters who don't know something that the reader learns fairly early on in the novel.

The immense worldbuilding in The Collapsing Empire will make it a required read for any reader is interested in reading the rest of The Interdependency series. However, if readers enjoy John Scalzi's other work, this novel will be a pleasant enough experience.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • There Is No God and He Is Always with You

  • A Search for God in Odd Places
  • By: Brad Warner
  • Narrated by: Brad Warner
  • Length: 7 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 108
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 96
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 96

Brad Warner was initially interested in Buddhism because he wanted to find God, but Buddhism is usually thought of as godless. In the three decades since Warner began studying Zen, he has grappled with paradoxical questions about God and managed to come up with some answers. In this fascinating search for a way beyond the usual arguments between fundamentalists and skeptics, Warner offers a profoundly engaging and idiosyncratic take on the ineffable power of the "ground of all being."

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Uncontroversially Thorough

  • By Zach Wilson on 04-17-17

Uncontroversially Thorough

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-17-17

The subject matter of Brad Warner's book "There Is No God and He Is Always with You" could be extremely controversial. But Warner has thought through much of the opinions expressed and has explained his points in a way that, even if the reader doesn't agree, they should be able to recognize his position as well dictated and holding equal merit to their own.

I don't know if I agree with all of Warner's arguments, but his perspective is fun, entertaining and addictive enough to keep me listening.

There is something to be greatly respected by the fact that Warner records and narrates his own books. Even with the production flaws that life brings, I find this choice to provide a powerful connection to the man behind the words that just reading or a different narrator would lack.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Grass 

  • By: Sheri S. Tepper
  • Narrated by: Dina Pearlman
  • Length: 18 hrs and 44 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 173
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 162
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 162

What could be more commonplace than grass or a world covered over all its surface with a wind-whipped ocean of grass? But the planet Grass conceals horrifying secrets within its endless pastures. And as an incurable plague attacks all inhabited planets but this one, the prairie-like Grass begins to reveal these secrets - and nothing will ever be the same again.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Superb

  • By aPriL does feral sometimes on 04-24-16

Speculative & Creative, Yet well Paced and Unique

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-17-17

The novel Grass by Sherri S. Tepper is incredibly interesting as it explores a diverse future where the human race has colonized other worlds. The titular planet of Grass is the centerpiece of the story, on which strange ritualistic hunts, similar to British fox hunts, are held using monstrous horse and hound like aliens.

Grass, as a novel and a planet, is full of secrets. These secrets compel the reader through the events of the plot with a fervent curiosity. The brilliant characterization and insight, especially of the primary protagonist Marjorie, keeps the narration and events of the story fresh and interesting, while the unfolding scope of the narrative ups the stakes of each conflict as the story progresses.

The only notable criticism I have concerns the presentation of the ending. Much of the last quarter of the book attempts to tackle complex philosophical and political concepts. While most of the discussion is interesting, I found it to be too didactic at times.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Warbreaker

  • By: Brandon Sanderson
  • Narrated by: Alyssa Bresnahan
  • Length: 24 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,700
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,883
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,869

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn't like his job, and the immortal who's still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago. Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can be collected only one unit at a time.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • My Favorite Sanderson Yet

  • By Carol on 09-10-17

Complex and Colorful from Start to Finish

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-17-17

Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker tells the tale of two countries on the brink of war. The only people standing in the way of catastrophe are two princesses, a lethargic god, and an enigmatic warrior with a sordid past.

If a reader is familiar with any work by Brandon Sanderson, they will know the complexity and strength of his magic systems. Warbreaker is one of Sanderson's most unique works because, the magic system of this world, Awakening, seems far less prevalent than most of his other books. To some, this may be seen as a criticism, but in truth, the magic of Awakening is just as present in this world as in any other Sanderson novel. The difference is the subtlety with which Sanderson uses Awakening. Instead of being a simple tool for the protagonists to use in order to assert their agency, Awakening is a strange, new, and sometimes unwelcome addition to the lives of the protagonists.

The most compelling aspect of Warbreaker is Sanderson's central theme, and the various ways he engages with this theme. Throughout the book, Siri and Vivenna both struggle to know who to trust in the strange new city they find themselves in. This trust leads to complications, struggles, and more impactful betrayal than I have ever experienced in a novel.

  • The Name of the Wind

  • Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 1
  • By: Patrick Rothfuss
  • Narrated by: Nick Podehl
  • Length: 27 hrs and 54 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 60,398
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54,860
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54,957

This is a tale of sorrow, a tale of survival, a tale of one man's search for meaning in his universe, and how that search, and the indomitable will that drove it, gave birth to a legend.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Wow!

  • By Joanna on 05-10-11

Like Diving in Head First

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-17-17

Patrick Rothfuss's "The Name of the Wind" is an enthralling introduction to a rich and populated world. The novel is powerfully written and full of interesting and unique characters. The touching honesty throughout the narration creates a sense of verisimilitude to the events being described. This same truthfulness makes the ending of the novel all the more complicated and interesting.

The narration and performance by Nick Podehl were incredible. His voice brought life to each character, major and minor, and kept the pace and narration of the novel fresh throughout the course of the story.

However, the story's main flaw is its nature as an introductory tale. I found the ending of the novel to be greatly interesting and compelling enough to make me want to read the next in the series, but, as a stand-alone novel, the ending left too much open. It seems obvious that the author knew he would publish the second novel as his team finished the final edits of the story.

  • Dead Beat

  • The Dresden Files, Book 7
  • By: Jim Butcher
  • Narrated by: James Marsters
  • Length: 15 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 16,969
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 14,886
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 14,813

When a killer vampire threatens to destroy head of Special Investigations Karrin Murphy's reputation, unless Harry delivers the powerful Word of Kemmler to her, he has no choice. Now Harry is in a race against time to find the Word before Chicago experiences a Halloween night to wake the dead.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • I wish it was about 20 hours longer

  • By Dan on 04-18-12

A Perfect Culmination

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-17-17

Would you listen to Dead Beat again? Why?

Yes, I'd listen to this book again. This installment in the Dresden File is the most masterfully written in the whole series (of the one's I have read). If I need a refresher on the series, or just want to revisit Butcher's magical version of Chicago this will be the novel I return to.

What did you like best about this story?

The best part of this story was the expertise used to bring together every aspect of Harry Dresden's life. Previous novels have been primarily focused on one or two aspects of Dresden's life (his issues with the Vampire courts, his love life, his interactions with the Knights of the Cross, etc) but never really involving all of these aspects in a single conflict.
"Dead Beat" is the first to draw upon each aspect of Harry Dresden to compel him and the plot forward throughout the novel.

Have you listened to any of James Marsters’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Most of Marsters's performances have been other books in the Dresden Files series. This book continues the fantastic line of performances that I have heard. The only thing that seemed noticeably different was Marsters's voice for Thomas. It seemed to me that the character's voice changed between this novel and the last; however, because of the events of the last novel this change may have been intentional. If so it was expertly done so that I noticed the change but didn't feel any disconnect between the character and his newer voice.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

If you thought blackmail was Harry Dresden's only problem, you'd be dead wrong.

  • The Magicians

  • A Novel
  • By: Lev Grossman
  • Narrated by: Mark Bramhall
  • Length: 17 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 15,731
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,887
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 13,908

Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, he's still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Not an average book

  • By Kyle on 04-30-11

Fantastic Fiction

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-20-16

If you're looking for a high quality modern fantasy novel, then you've come to the right place. The world of Fillery, while being an overt allusion to C.S. Lewis' Narnia, is rich, dark, and unique in its own ways. Lev Grossman creates vivid, relatable characters that make the listener root for them one minute, then hate them in the next.

  • The Final Empire

  • Mistborn Book 1
  • By: Brandon Sanderson
  • Narrated by: Michael Kramer
  • Length: 24 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 41,691
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36,754
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 36,767

For a thousand years the ash fell and no flowers bloomed. For a thousand years the Skaa slaved in misery and lived in fear. For a thousand years the Lord Ruler, the "Sliver of Infinity," reigned with absolute power and ultimate terror, divinely invincible. Then, when hope was so long lost that not even its memory remained, a terribly scarred, heart-broken half-Skaa rediscovered it in the depths of the Lord Ruler's most hellish prison.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A GREAT TRILOGY!!!

  • By Don Gilbert on 11-12-09

Allomancy for the Emotions and Adventure

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-17-15

Where does The Final Empire rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is either my second or third favorite audiobook I've listened to

Any additional comments?

This story is expertly crafted and while the ending is somewhat inevitable Sanderson still manages to surprise the listener through his unique twists and turns.

  • The Aeronaut's Windlass

  • The Cinder Spires, Book 1
  • By: Jim Butcher
  • Narrated by: Euan Morton
  • Length: 21 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 13,586
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,748
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 12,740

Since time immemorial the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace. Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy's shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A Brave New World

  • By Don Gilbert on 10-02-15

Power, Fantastic, Refreshing

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-17-15

Would you consider the audio edition of The Aeronaut's Windlass to be better than the print version?

Yes I believe the narrator helped really bring each character to life. The only thing I could have found an issue was not knowing how to spell all of the character's names but I could find that through the internet easily.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Captain Grimm was easily my favorite character. His devotion to his crew and his passion and love for his ship was admirable. His quick thinking and the fact that he fought 4 skirmishes with an injured arm made him seem like a total badass.

What does Euan Morton bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His inflection and voices helped differentiate the characters

Any additional comments?

Jim Butcher is known for his supernatural detective series: The Dresden Files. These novels tend to follow a very simple yet well executed story structure that rarely changes. This novel is a fresh look at Butcher's writing skills as he breaks from his normal structure.

  • Agent to the Stars

  • By: John Scalzi
  • Narrated by: Wil Wheaton
  • Length: 8 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 10,692
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,728
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9,718

The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity's first interstellar friendship. There's just one problem: They're hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish. So getting humanity's trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal. Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He's one of Hollywood's hottest young agents.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Hollywood Agent Represents Stinky Aliens

  • By Bryan on 04-22-11

Great! Only one very small problem!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-09-15

I had trouble clearly defining Michelle's character after her big change (I won't go into detail to avoid spoilers) I wish we had either heard a more distinct voice for her character or it had been better conveyed through the text.